By: Jerome Marshall
According to John Bolton, a Senior Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute and U.N. ambassador for the US, there’s plenty to worry about as an American citizen. You’ve got a president who “doesn’t understand how Washington works,” who also has an “inability to work with congress” and all the political gridlock that comes with it.
Last week Ambassador Bolton gave a pretty negative presentation filled with misgivings about the Obama administration and his frustrations with the IRS and other bureaucracies. Surprisingly enough, toward the end of his speech he pulled a nose dive that would impress a peregrine falcon and praised the work of one of the most controversial agencies the American government has: the NSA.
The pro-NSA tail-end to his speech clocked in around 11 minutes and was packed with all sorts of juicy musings and personal opinions from the ambassador. To start off, Bolton informs us that “The NSA’s job is to spy on foreigners” because “the more we know about what our adversaries are doing the better we can prepare for it.” Not much to take issue with there. But then he goes on to assure us that the agency isn’t involved in local enforcement, “it doesn’t have time for us.”
Is that so? Even if we ignore the idea that Ambassador Bolton seems to believe that all “foreigners” are potential terrorists to be spied on, what about his blind notion that Americans don’t get tangled up in all this intrusion of privacy?
In the past month, the CEOs of Facebook and Yahoo, Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer respectively, came forward saying they’d been metaphorically gagged when expressing a desire to share with the public how much information the NSA requested. “Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” Mayer said. In the agency’s defense, they did mitigate the situation a little. Using Zuckerberg’s words “Oh don’t worry, we’re not spying on Americans.”
Sounds familiar. I guess the recent revelation that the NSA monitored Martin Luther King Jr, Muhammad Ali, Art Buchwald and Frank Church doesn’t count. Or what aboutthe sharing of raw intelligence including American’s data with Israeland the fact that only last week waslegislation proposed to end the bulk collection of American’s phone records. Sounds a bit like spying.
But overall, the odds of having your information must be pretty small.
Not if the NSA gets what they want.
When asked in a public hearing if the agency wanted to collect the records of all Americans, General Keith Alexander director of the NSA responded, “I believe it is in the nation’s best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox – yes.” And that was just a few days ago.
Ambassador Bolton himself admits that it’s probable that you can have your metadata inadvertently collected by the NSA in an attempt to catch a terrorist. “The issue is what you do with the other information you pick up. What the NSA does is with it, is sort through looking for patterns” Does the algorithm used to sift through tons of American data, allowing the NSA to“assemble a richly detailed profile of every person living in the US” count as spying? “I don’t think so. It’s not a threat to your privacy.” because according to Bolton “your phone records are dust in the wind unless you’re talking to terrorists.”
So don’t worry, America. If you’re not talking to terrorists you have nothing to fear. The NSA won’t pay attention to all the data they have on you, they’ll just store it or trade it to Israel. Or maybe in the future they’ll adjust the definition of “terrorist” to justify them using your information however it suits them.
But that’ll never happen, right?
But when we have people like John Bolton representing us in our government and the UN it’s a little hard not to worry. Especially when he’s proud of the NSA for its intrusive practices, boasting that he’s “not offended we’re still monitoring foreigners phone calls. Warrants or no warrants.”
It’s important to note that the ambassador’s rant did have its merits. Toward the end he pleads with the audience to think about things before they decry the NSA. “Before we have a debate about the NSA that puts out our eyes and ears around the world… Draw your own conclusions.” It’s a worthwhile request everyone should heed. I can only hope the conclusion you draw doesn’t agree with the excessive invasion of privacy currently our government is perpetrating.